ould I be happier? Could I have a happier child?
Ever asked yourself these questions?
I certainly have. Indeed, they’re the very questions that first led me to reflect on what kind of mother I wanted to be and what kind of life I wanted our family to have. They are the questions that inspired me to slow down, to pay attention to the little things, to do less and to enjoy more. They helped me redefine what it means to have a good life – a life that is less about accomplishing and acquiring things and more about accepting and loving people.
This summer, these questions led Beth Spicer to launch an extraordinary conversation about happiness, parenting, and the ongoing work of aligning our lives with our deepest values and desires.
Beth is a successful life coach and a single mom. Working, raising a toddler, juggling her own hopes and dreams with the demands of her clients and her son, advising others about how to bring more meaning and fulfillment into their lives, Beth found herself coming back again and again to one word: happiness.
Happiness is, of course, what we all long for — for ourselves, for our kids, for one another. And yet, what an elusive a goal it can be! Is there a secret? Does it have to do with staking out and protecting down time or, is it about simply taking a deep breath even in the midst of the day’s chaos and giving thanks for life just as it is? (Maybe both?) Is happiness a matter of temperament or character? Discipline or practice? Choice or luck? Why are some families happier than others? How do we cultivate joy for ourselves? How do we bequeath it to our children?
In search of answers and strategies, Beth reached out to a wide-ranging group of experts – teachers, therapists, and visionaries – and brought them together in one place, to participate in a unique virtual event: The Happy Parents and Kids TeleSummit.
Although I’m not an educator, a family therapist, or an expert, Beth invited me to be a part of this extraordinary panel of men and women. For a moment, I’ll admit, I hesitated. I’m a mom, a memoir writer, a blogger, not a pro. I looked at the list of speakers and felt a bit intimidated.
But then I realized that my own 23 years of mothering two sons from birth to young adulthood have indeed taught me a few things about happiness – my own and theirs. And, although I’ve written much about this journey of the heart, beginning over thirteen years ago in the pages of Mitten Strings for God, I’ve never actually spoken about it in this context before: parenthood as an ongoing education in the art of living joyfully.
Many mornings over the last couple of weeks, I’ve lingered over my coffee and tuned in to a conversation with one of my fellow panelists. (I’ve especially loved hanging out with Bonnie Harris, Dan Millman, Sonia Choquette, Dan Siegal, and Cheryl Erwin.) And that really is what it’s been like: having a daily check-in with a support group of like-minded souls who’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the very questions and issues I grapple with each day myself.
What attitude do I bring to my life? What do my children need from me? How can I cultivate more harmony and peace in our relationships? What patterns and old habits are holding us back? What could I do differently today to make things easier for all of us tomorrow?
By the time I finally sat down to talk with Beth myself, it felt as if we were already friends. Our chat was the kind I like most: unrehearsed, intimate, personal, with plenty of sharing on both sides. Forty-five minutes flew by, and what we both really wanted to do at the end was continue the conversation.
And, in a way, we do: we get to share it with you.
To listen, simply click on this link: http://happyparentsandkids.com
Once you arrive at the Happy Parents And Kids website, you will be invited to register for the tele-summit (it’s free). And then you will have access not only to my interview (here’s the link), but to Beth’s conversations with all of my colleagues as well.
Happy Labor Day weekend, and happy listening!
P.S. A word about these pictures. I took the first one at sunset at my parents’ house in Maine, on a summer night just about fifteen years ago. To me it says, “Happiness.” (When I showed it to Steve the other day, it brought tears to his eyes. Jack was such a cuddler; now he’s taller than his dad.) The other, also taken on vacation in Maine, I snapped with my iPhone just two weeks ago. So much has happened. We have grown old and our boys have grown up and we’ve all had our share of struggles and challenges along the way. But here we are. And this photo of Steve and Jack says the same thing to me: “Happiness.”
A few more days. . .
A huge and heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported my upcoming Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. As I enter my final week of training to walk those 26.2 miles next Sunday, I’m buoyed by your encouragement and generosity. You are the wind in my sails! May our combined efforts help to ensure that all women who follow in my friend’s footsteps will have a better prognosis than she did.
If you missed my blog post about Diane and her journey with ovarian cancer, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it here. I am so close to achieving my goal for next Sunday, that I’ve decided to extend the opportunity to donate (and enter to win a copy of my collected blog posts).
A contribution to Team Diane and a comment on my Aug. 15 post will make you eligible to win one of the 12 copies I’m giving away of the book of my blog posts — my way of saying thank you. (Much as I would love to give every single one of you a bound copy of The View from My Window, I have only a dozen left on my shelf. Still, your odds are good! And please know that I am enormously grateful for every single donation.)
Winners will be drawn on Tues. Sept 3. Thank you, my friends, and good luck to all!